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Harmonic Ideas

Discussion in 'Music Theory [DB]' started by ImAGoodDuck, Apr 15, 2006.


  1. I'm looking for different things to try harmonically in terms of improvising. I'm looking more along the lines of different sounds for different chords, kind of stretching out or tension and release ideas. Things like lydian on top of major, altered on a dominant, altered on dorian, things of that sort. Any things you just know and feel like sharing is cool or if there's a book I should be checking out let me know. Much appreciated.
     
  2. droo

    droo

    Nov 1, 2004
    Oxfordshire, UK
    As I just said in another post, I've just finished reading Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book"

    In there is a lot of stuff on playing outside the changes including "sideslipping" (playing lines derived from scales a half-step above or below) or playing scales on the tritone substitution - as well as some of the stuff you described.

    Actually I was jamming with a sitar player the other day and we just improvised over D dorian for about half an hour - I got to try out some of the stuff then... otherwise it can get kind of mind-numbing :)
     
  3. tzadik

    tzadik

    Jan 6, 2005
    Maine
    +1! Mark Levine's books are fabulous.

    Something to do with people who don't care or Aebersold: Play some 'wrong' notes and then do whatever it takes to make them resolve/work. Practice getting yourself out of glitches. After, it's cool to go back and figure out why the note had a wrong sound to it. (And then remember that degree of tension and save it for later use!)
     
  4. Andy Allen

    Andy Allen "Working Bassist"

    Aug 31, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA

    AAHHAAA!!!....that's what I'm doing :eek: :D

    Those stinkers I play.....they're.....they're deliberate...yes...I'm practicing getting myself out of a hole...phew, I feel so much better now....:p :p :p

    I've been going through this recently; a duo I play with has added a second guitar (+ drums). We've been ploughing though stuff, sorting out arrangements, trying not to get in each other's way, while still supporting each other. Surprisingly it's as much of a challenge as putting the duo together was in the first place.

    Just remember - there are no wrong notes in Jazz, ya just gotta use them in the right place :D

    Andy
     
  5. Here are some harmonic ideas you might try. If a piece has a blues feel, harmonize each blues scale member against the major triad whose root is that member. It's a parallel thing. Guitarists do it a lot.

    Another neat sound works for sustained chords. If the piece sounds diatonic. harmonize the members of the major pentatonic scale with double stops as follows 1+ Major 3rd above, 2 + perfect 4th above, 3 + perfect 4th above,, 5+ perfect 4th above, , 6 + perfect 4th above.

    Mostly I just enjoy diatonic stepping and skipping up and down within the key signature , throwing in a few blue notes, listening for the changes and complimenting the melody. I really like melody.
     
  6. mje

    mje

    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was something like "...for every scale, there are 8 scale tones and four passing tones you can play..."

    I started thinking about this while playing guitar, instead of thinking in terms of scales and positions. My playing still ain't great, but it's more interesting than it used to be ;-)
     
  7. silk1rep

    silk1rep

    Apr 26, 2006
    Try constructing lines over a v7 chord that consist of the chord tones of major or minor triads whose roots are minor 3rds away from the root of your v7.So in the key of C when you get to the Dm7 - G7 play a line that consist of notes from the Bb,Db and E triads.Make the sound of each triad clear.
    The reason why this works is because all those notes are part of the ab diminished scale which is one scale that fits a G7b9 chord(a half whole scale starting on G is another way of looking at it) and also because you get the sound of consecutive major or minor triads holding the line together as constant harmonic structures.
     
  8. damonsmith

    damonsmith

    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    I'd try a few different things:
    1. Read Arnie Schoenberg's "Structural functions of Harmony"
    2. Check out a few Cecil Taylor solo recordings from a few periods.
    Maybe "Fly, Fly, Fly", "Tree Of Life And "Willisau"
    3. My two favorite masters of complex harmony in straight(er) jazz are Red Mitchell and Drew Gress. Particularly Mr. Gress' work with Marc Copeland and Red's Duos with Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh.
    Marc Copeland's solo Cd has some nice ideas also.
    4. Beyond the above listen to as many of the great pianists solo recordings. Harmony is where they live.
    5. Go through tunes and find out how much of the actual harmony you can get on your bass through double and triple stops.
    6. Taking the phrase "playing changes" literally: You "meet" at the harmony change on "one" the middle can be free space, within reason.
     
  9. oliebrice

    oliebrice

    Apr 7, 2003
    Hastings, UK
    quote:
    3. My two favorite masters of complex harmony in straight(er) jazz are Red Mitchell and Drew Gress. Particularly Mr. Gress' work with Marc Copeland and Red's Duos with Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh.
    Marc Copeland's solo Cd has some nice ideas also.
    4. Beyond the above listen to as many of the great pianists solo recordings. Harmony is where they live.

    Drew Gress talked in an interview about learning a huge amount of harmonic ideas from Marc Copland. Taking some lessons with a pianist could be a really productive way of increasing your ear for and knowledge of harmony.
     
  10. Besides the guys you mentioned olie, please don't forget Bill Evans and Jim Hall...these guys and your inclusion of Red and Drew have totally revamped the jazz/standard repertoire
     
  11. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Maui
    Somebody here once suggested saxophonist Walt Weiskopf's books. I always meant to check them out, especially after hearing Walt live.
     
  12. damonsmith

    damonsmith

    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    - Very true, esp. the Hall/Evans duo and the Hall/Mitchell duo we have been discussing in the Red Mitchell thread.
    Still, Bill Evans' approach to harmony seems to be the standard for us at this point...
     

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